Given the title of this blog, and today’s date near the end of the year, I decided to write up the first annual 12 frogs list of 12 favorite media bits. There aren’t many ground rules, other that every item on the list is a media bit (media being books, film, tv, etc. but no blogs — but I might do a separate bloggy thing later, who knows?) that I came across for the first time this year and liked enough to put in the top twelve. Hardware related to media (such as my beloved iPod) don’t count: the list is about content I’ve enjoyed not devices I’ve drooled over. In alphabetical order, here are my top twelve and the reason why each one made the list:
- An Anthropologist on Mars
I have a certain fascination with quirky brains. Oliver Sacks is a bit odd himself, and he writes about people with various neurological conditions or impairments that place them outside of what is generally considered to be “not normal.” When I wrote about this book for my booklog, I said that I was drawn in by this book because it explores the intersection of brain and mind that makes us who we are.
- Attack of the Clones
While I am not a dress in costume, stand in line for opening day tickets obsessive, worship at the altar of George Lucus kind of fan, I do get into Star Wars. The mythic sweep of the story, the visual effects, the cool but impossible sounds of zooming around in space, the epic cheesiness: what is not to love? [I know I said “no hardware” but I just have to note that the digital projection of this movie kicked all ass.]
- Good-Bye Chunky Rice
This graphic novel by Craig Thompson is amazing: if you aren’t sure if graphic novels can tell a moving story, or if comic art can be beautiful and not just about bulging muscles, you need to read this. If you already know how visual art and storytelling art can combine to create unique experiences for the reader, read this because it is a brilliant example of how it works. It is on the list because it helped to teach me just that — there are ways to tell stories I hadn’t even thought about.
- Lenore Created by Roman Dirge, this is a comic book series (now up to issue #9) about a cute little dead girl. I had to put this on my list because it makes me laugh out loud. It is gross and funny in that dark, this is sooooo wrong it is right kind of way. The fact that she is a little girl and not a little boy makes it much better: little girls don’t usually get to behave like Lenore does, and get to do and enjoy the gross stuff. You go, little dead girl!
- The Life of Pi
Yes, Yann Martel won the Booker Prize for the novel this year, but that is not why it is on this list. It is on the list because I fell in love with the book, from the gorgeous cover art to the outrageous premise that the story within just might make you believe in God. And it frames and asks the best question I’ve read in a novel in a long, long time: “Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to belief, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
- Lilo & Stitch
I could go about how much I love this movie, that is may be my favorite Disney flick of all time, but really you just should go read “I Want To Be ‘Stitch’ When I Grow Up” instead.
- Peanutbutter & Jeremy
Hell, just about everything I read by James Kochalka — Kissers, Pinky & Stinky, and Monkey vs. Robot — was great, but in the interest of not turning this list into a James Kochalka Superstar fest, I picked the PB&J comic series, which are the first actual comic books I bought. Peanutbutter is a cat, Jeremy is a mean crow with a gun, and the two of them together are great entertainment. PB one of the most adorable cats I’ve ever seen, especially while wearing his little baseball cap on casual day.
- Samurai Jack
Samurai Jack is a good guy you can like: a man of honor and skill, a hero who when fighting against impossible odds usually wins, but not without getting injured and messing up his hair. In other words, he isn’t just a cartoon, he is smart. Visually stunning, this show also has the best sound editing of any tv program I’ve ever heard.
- Seasons One and Two of the Simpsons on DVD
I’ve been a Simpsons fan since they were short bits on the Tracy Ullman show. So while I’ve seen all these episodes before, watching them on DVD is great: the picture is so crisp, and you can pause and go back to catch that line you missed. This is the first time I’ve seen fit to actually buy any tv show, and I have no doubt I will collect every season as it is released. A big part of my enjoying these DVDs is watching them with L – since she came late to the Simpsons, all these episodes are new to her. Okay, fine, in the interest of really keeping this list to twelve things, I’ll count each season separately.
- Trading Spaces
I developed an obsession with the show, which was only fueled by getting cable tv. L hates it (the show, and my obsession with it. My need to watch it for two hours on Saturday nights is probably why she hates it.) Doug is an asshole but fun to watch; Hildi usually does bizarre things to make living rooms unlivable; Frank just seems like a fun guy; I like Paige; plus, I get to watch sleep-deprived people cry. Woo hoo! And it provided my favorite nerd tv moment: painting bookshelves in my living room while watching the show.
- Understanding Comics
I picked this up because there had been some buzz about it from web design/IA folks. I have to confess, I also read this book because while I didn’t get the “comics thing” I was curious about it, and I did want to learn more about elements of visual storytelling. The last thing I was expecting when I read Scott McCloud’s book was for it to kick off a full-blown comics obsession on my part, but it did.
What were your favorite media bits this year?